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Pirates or Pioneers
David Whittaker

This article is a direct response to a publication I recently read in the U.S. News & World Report magazine called “A Nation of Pirates”.  Due to the rise in popularity of on-line file sharing the, R.I.A.A (Recording Industry Association of America) has been mounting a huge offensive, directed toward anyone, and anything directly involved in on-line file sharing.  Declaring a loss of 26% (and steadily increasing) in CD sales since 1999, copyright infringement law suits were discriminately directed at the major file sharing software companies. 

     The R.I.A.A scored an early and promising victory over their first mark, Napster.  Although Napster wasn’t the first of its kind, it was the most popular, making it an obvious prime target.  Nevertheless, since then, the R.I.A.A and The Motion Picture of America conglomerates have failed to bring down the successful, more intelligent, successors of Napster: Morpheus, Kazaa, Grokster, and Limewire.  Due to better technology, programming, and the fact that most of these companies are based beyond the jurisdiction of American copyright infringement laws, they have escaped the wrath of the R.I.A.A.  Now in a seemingly act of desperation, they have turned their attention to the individual users.  Redirecting the threatening dialect of lawsuits and hefty fines, the users of the file sharing community are now the prime targets, of what the R.I.A.A. executives might call ”anti-terrorism” tactics.

     These are the facts.  And let’s face it, it is impossible, yes I said it! Absolutely Impossible for the recording industry, or anyone else for that matter, to crack down and target every individual involved in file sharing - Impossible.  I have three reasons for my claim: 

     First of all, the action of file sharing and swapping is deeply seeded in being a “computer person”.  I remember in the early days (way before the internet) cruising bulletin boards looking for new games and software to download.  Then turn right around and share them with my other peers - And this is when I was twelve or thirteen years of age!  Nothing has changed. 

    Second, there is an issue of personal privacy involved.  In order to obtain evidence, the recoding industry will have to have some sort of legislation passed where they can then “tap” your IP address, monitor all the port traffic, and decode the packets. The “Honeypot” technology, (false sites reeking of entrapment), has been employed by the recording companies to lure their victims into such activities.  Initially, these “Honeypots” act as an investigation starting point and in this manner they are rather effective.  However, there aren’t many of them out there. To counter these traps this is all I am going to say: If you are going to walk through a mine field all you need is a little intelligence (consult with your peers - share information), common sense (if something doesn’t look right, or feels funny, it probably is), and a great mine detector (lists of known “Honeypot” traps - they are out there if you look). 

    Thirdly, and this lesson comes from the principles of Mother Nature herself….There is safety in numbers!  And we also have a huge advantage: We are much smarter than our predators.  It’s in no doubt; if the R.I.A.A is absolutely committed to their cause, they will catch a few unsuspecting people – maybe even dozens.  But the R.I.A.A will succeed only if the unscrupulous subjects are made examples of, and even more so if they become myths and/or urban legends.  You know something like this: “A friend, of a friend, of a friend, got caught downloading the new song by 50 Cent. And the R.I.A.A came down on him and boom! 3 years in jail, and 150,000 dollars in fines!!”.  A little extreme? Yes. But you know how stories spread.  And Yes! We also have clever minds, always thinking of “The new way”.  An example shown clear and taught by the Napster successors.  Every trap they put out, every obstacle that is put up, becomes the question that hackers have to have the answer to.

     Standing on the last leg of resistance to the onslaught of on-line file swapping, the R.I.A.A will ultimately be its own demise.  Ignoring the obvious need and wants of the people and clinging to the primordial ways of their business, will certainly be their downfall.  The music industry has shunned what they should have embraced.  Knowing that the ship has sailed, leaving them stranded, they are failing to become a part of a new world forthcoming.  The solution to the problem doesn’t lie in a court room it lays in the office, at the negotiation table. In order to survive, the Music Industry needs to work with the innovators, the creators, and the minds, the pioneers, those who have created and engineered this new and exciting technology.  

    “Technology will always be in a state of progression. It has been proven all throughout our known time.  It, being an integral part of the human spirit, body, and soul, cannot be contained.  As long as the free mind exists, this equation is forever locked into eternity. “

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